Cancer, as we all know, is one of the most dangerous diseases of all times with no specific cure as such. The treatments and drugs prescribed help a great deal in reducing the bodily spread of cancer and soothing symptoms; however medical scientists are still on the quest to find that one holy grail that will model a cancer-free world.
With the discovery of many new drugs and therapies, oncologists have been able to treat cancer in a very effective way thus restoring many more years to cancer patients. Below, let us take a look at the various treatments and therapies that oncologists prescribe to a patient affected by cancer.
Types of treatments:
The treatment to be carried out on a patient depends on the type and stage of cancer. Oncologists also need to assess if cancer has spread to different parts of the body or has the possibility of spreading. Here’s a list of treatments –
1. Surgery – In most cases, the oncologist suggests a surgical procedure in order to remove the cancerous tumour from the body. If cancer has targeted some specified tissues in a particular area of the body, surgical treatment usually proves to be a success. Implemented in most types of cancer, chemotherapy and radiation might also be used either before or after the surgery.
2. Chemotherapy – Often touted as a treatment involving a bunch of side-effects, chemotherapy is used to treat cancer that has spread throughout the body. Chemotherapy involves a group of cancer-targeting drugs that is induced into the body either orally, injections or IV. This drug travels through the bloodstream preventing further advancement of cancer. Chemotherapy has often proved its mettle to:
- Shrink a malignant tumour before surgery
- Slow the growth of cancer cells
- Prevent cancer from multiplying further
- Lower the risk of cancer growth after surgery
- Cure cancer that has spread throughout the body
Chemotherapy besides being an effective cancer therapy brings with itself a hoard of side-effects. The most prominent side effect is, it kills some healthy cells that result in temporary loss of hair, nausea, vomiting, weak immune system, fatigue, low haemoglobin count, pain and susceptibility to infections. Chemotherapy is usually given at multiple intervals. It is best not to miss any of these sessions for radical treatment of cancer.
3. Radiation – Used to treat localised cancer, radiation can be given through external radiation or radiation implants depending on the type and seriousness of cancer. However, most of the patients affected by cancer undergo radiation treatment at some point. Radiation therapy comes with its own set of side-effects. Loss of appetite, exhaustion, low immunity, temporary hair loss and change in skin tone where radiation has been applied. However, the side-effects might show aggravation if the patient has had a low immune system.
4. Immunotherapy – Also known as Biologic therapy, immunotherapy aims at strengthening the immune system to fight cancer. This therapy works by lowering the growth of cancer cells, triggers the immune system to control cancer and repairs the healthy cells that might have undergone damage during radiation or other forms of treatment.
5. Targeted therapy – This new form of treatment involves drugs that target the specific genes to help stop cancer growth.
6. Hormone therapy – Opted by oncologists especially for breast and prostate cancer, hormone treatment or therapy reduces the risk of cancer growth caused by hormones. Since this therapy interferes with the production of hormones, there are some unwelcome side-effects too. Hot flashes, diarrhoea, weak bones, fatigue, mood changes and decreased libido.
7. Stem cell transplant – Targeted to treat certain types of blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma; this treatment subjects your body to high doses of chemotherapy or whole-body radiotherapy. It kills cancer cells but also might target the healthy cells in the bone marrow.
Getting diagnosed with cancer can be both frustrating and confusing for the patient as well as the family. With such a myriad of trials & treatments and oral medications available in the market, the safest bet is to depend on your oncologist, but there’s no harm in getting yourself educated on the uses and side-effects of these treatments. Search for the best oncologist online and help a cancer patient survive.